Telemedicine for all

New solution focused on customization, affordability

One of the enduring criticisms of telemedicine is the price tag, in that much of the technology is beyond the means of smaller and remote healthcare providers who would benefit most from it. A new connected health offering is aimed directly at that pain point.

Cisco last week unveiled its HealthPresence 2.5, a software-driven version of its telemedicine platform that enables providers to build their own network with the tools at hand. The new solution is designed to enable standards-based connectivity to third-party medical devices and videoconferencing services, as well as flexibility in choosing hardware and deployment resources.

"Cisco HealthPresence 2.5 offers our customers incredible flexibility to build the right solution for their telehealth initiatives," said David Plummer, global business leader for Cisco HealthPresence, in a press release. "By unbundling the solution and offering Cisco HealthPresence software as a stand-alone offering, Cisco now enables customers to build telehealth networks using the hardware that best suits their needs."

The company unveiled the solution during an online presentation last week that included testimonials from officials at Seattle Children's Hospital and Resolute Health. In addition, Kathy English, global senior director of Cisco Healthcare and public sector marketing, announced the global availability of Cisco Services for Connected Health and Cisco Architectures for Connected Health, two solutions designed to enable providers in other countries to launch a Cisco-supported telemedicine platform. That platform is now being used by Albert Einstein Israelita Hospital in Brazil and Uruguay's Fundacion Peluffo-Giguens, among others.

Wes Wright, senior vice president and chief information officer at Seattle Children's, said the hospital "rekindled" its relationship with Cisco about three years ago and has been steadily enhancing its virtual desktop environment, which now has the capability to handle as many as 3,000 desktops. He said the hospital is boosting its telemedicine capabilities to handle patients in remote parts of the Cascade Peninsula.

"This is not just a 'nice-to-have' solution any more," he said.

Roderick Bell II, vice president and chief information officer for Texas-based Resolute Health, said the health system is boosting its telemedicine program to enable clinicians to confer with patients before a hospital visit. In addition, the system is using telemedicine in local schools and is considering its use in prisons.

"This allows you to create new books of business," he said, particularly as the nation moves toward more accountable care organizations.